memoir Left Field was published in 2016 and
is still available in shops and as an e-book and an Audible book.
intervening years have been ones of personal and political
hope and of personal and political despair. In other
words, nothing out of the ordinary.
surprisingly for someone in his seventh decade, these have
been years when close friends have left this planet while I remain
clinging to its edges, aware of Leonard Cohen’s words to Marianne
Ihlen that, “I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your
hand, I think you can reach mine.”
subdural haematoma operation I wrote about in Left Field was
followed two years later by a heart valve operation, then a stroke caused by infection of my new valve. I used my hospital
stays to campaign for an NHS that had now saved my life more than once.
am proud that the unfairly much-vilified Jeremy Corbyn visited me when I was
in St Barts Hospital. The worst insult he has had to endure has been ‘anti-semitism’ accusations about a man who has been at the
forefront of anti-racism struggles for decades.
To that end, I
helped organise a letter signed by Ken Loach, Brian Eno,
Grime4Corbyn, Nigel Kennedy, Alexei Sayle and thousands of others in
support of Corbyn, whom I consider to be our El Pepe.
years have been ones when my eldest son lost and won back his
disablity benefits. Many haven’t and many have lost their lives in the process.
have also been years of loss for me, not of the dead, but of a living son who has ghosted me. I
wrote about this under a pseudonym for Stand Alone, a wonderful charity set up by a
friend of mine for people estranged from their families.
past as co-founder of the charity War Child still haunts me and hope
it haunts those I write critically about here. I recently learned
that the present War Child CEO receives an annual salary of £108,000.
I will end with some music. I
will be back in Bosnia Herzegovina soon to stay with my Bosnian
family. But, before that, I will be at the Dubioza Kolektiv gig in
London. Here is the schedule for their upcoming UK tour and a track
of theirs about borders that kill. Join me there.
was good to hear his memories of being brought up in London (he and I
were born the same year). Kenin
Streatham and me further south in leafier Bromley. I have written
about him before and like and respect the man enormously.
has a “Pink Hat” - (OK let me repeat. My father said you can
always tell who is the honest politician, ‘the one wearing the pink
he was leader of the GLC,Margaret
Thatcher accused Ken of introducing an
European” style “tyranny”, for crimes such as lowering bus
fares and organising anti-racist celebrations. More recently he has,
with Jeremy Corbyn, been a victim of the right-wing
right-wing, as now represented by the current PM and politicians such
but certainly not pink, with
company accounts showingmore
over the last 5 years.
was a lot of discussion about the Labour Party leadership election
puzzled why he supports Keir Starmer on the basis that he is a good
‘administrator’ and is 'someone who looks like they can run the
discussion turned to whether Labour could win an election in five
years I mentioned that the French haven’t waited andhavebeen
on virtual generalstrike
for many weeks; that last week Macron, the French President, was
driven out of a theatre onto streets occupied by striking
in conclusion Vive La France and Vive Ken Livingstone. La lutte
is, after four years, still on sale online and in bookshops, but can
now be read for free
my friends in Bosnia Herzegovina. I think this is the right moment to
explain to you what is going on in my country – the misnamed
You and I know – you much more than me –
the terrible results of corrupt political practices and how staged
nationalism, manufactured racism and fascist nostalgia are threats to
our humanity, to our lives.
father used to joke that, “You can always tell the honest
politician. He is wearing a pink hat.” There have been few pink
hats in your country. In mine too, but weirdly, and against the odds,
there has been one in recent years. His name is Jeremy Corbyn.
became leader of our Labour Party and with him came 400,000 new
members. Me included. Most were young and eager to support a
Corbyn-led party that would defend the weak, reverse the Neo-Liberal
privatisation of our National Health Service and national utilities,
promote peace in place of war and ensure the richest 1% at least
started paying their share of taxes.
in your country the odds against him, and us, were too great. Not in
terms of numbers, but in terms of who had the most money and could
shout the loudest - The billionaire Press and broadcast media, (I am
sure many of you will be shocked that the BBC led the way here), and
the influence of foreign states.
as in your country, the good overwhelms the bad. I may be too old and
ill to have the chance to witness our victory, but it will come.
Across the Adriatic from you a victim of an earlier fascism, Antonio
Gramsci, said from his prison cell, “Pessimism of the spirit.
Optimism of the will.” DA, SI, YES
As part of the the Johnson government’s Brexit Bill, the
UK Parliament has voted against guaranteeing the right of
unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in
Labour's Lord Dubs - who came to the UK as a child
to escape the Nazis, and who has campaigned for the children,
called the decision “Appalling and deeply distressing." Jeremy
Corbyn said, "for his whole life Lord Dubs has worked tirelessly
to ensure children affected by the worst aspects of global injustice
are given sanctuary in this country … Now this government, in its
first weeks in office has ripped up those hard won commitments."
than 10,000 unaccompanied children are believed to have entered the
UK over the past decade using dangerous methods such as hiding in the
back of a lorry. 90% of the minors have illegally entered the UK and
done so by risking their lives.”
is a condensed version taken from articles I have had published in
recent years. I think it addresses issues which are sadly blocking
the road to a better future – perhaps any future.
recent days US
Pence and Sec of State, Mike Pompeo, have been urging Trump to attack
Iran. Both of them are supported by the Christian-Zionist
movement who can’t wait for a Biblical Armageddon
in the Middle East.
this country we have a Prime Minister who is happy to be the
fourth horseman of the Apocalypse
and many in the Labour Party too
ready to clamber up behind him .
Labour Party will soon
be choosing a new leader and, surprise surprise, accusations of
anti-semitism are once
again being used against those who dare
speak out for the rights
claiming that Jeremy Corbyn scored 0 out of 10 as party leaderEmily
need to get down on our hands and knees to the Jewish community and
ask them for forgiveness and a fresh start.” On
BBC Question time Clive Lewis ‘apologised’ for Labour’s
party leader contender, Rebecca
Long-Bailey better be among the first to get
on her knees and ask forgiveness
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said she
was the candidate he "would worry about" adding, “she's
the continuity candidate, she stands for Corbynism in its purest
went on to criticise her for not joining Labour Friends of Israel.
forgiveness for agreeing posthumously with
(Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot
understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties
and a narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.” Or
concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in
part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no
sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of
a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings
of the natives,” Perhaps
claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic
political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in
which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago, this world
would be a madhouse,” or
Levi, writer and Auschwitz survivor: "Everyone
has their Jews. For the Israelis they are the Palestinians."
should also seek forgiveness on behalf ofMarek
Edelman, last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw uprising: who
a letter in support of the Palestine resistance, comparing them to
ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw. He opened with, "Commanders
of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations - to
all the soldiers of the Palestine fighting organisations,”And
there is of course Hannah
trouble is that Zionism has often thought and said that the evil of
antisemitism was necessary for the good of the Jewish people. In the
words of a well-known Zionist in a letter to me discussing the
original Zionist argumentation: 'The antisemites want to get rid of
the Jews, the Jewish State wants to receive them, a perfect match,'”
voice from the living,Noam
the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much
worse than apartheid.”
has now reached the level of absurdity when these giants of our
political history are ignored or maligned and the rest of us must
bend the knee before criticising Israel.
father was one of the first Allied doctors to enter Bergen-Belsen
concentration camp. The photos he took there, and later showed me of
the skeletal prisoners, scarred my young mind. It was those haunting
pictures that led me to a lifetime of anti-fascism.
sixteen I had my first contact with real anti-semites. One Saturday
morning in Bromley High Street, thugs from the British Movement,
forerunners of Tommy Robinson's Britain First, and shouting “You bloody Yids”,
beat me up for selling Peace News. I discovered the
headquarters of the Zionist Federation and they gave me Star of David
badges. The following Saturday I, and a fellow pacifist wore these
badges and were beaten up again.
a member of the Anti-Nazi League in the 70s, I helped set up a
support and defence group in North West London for Asian shopkeepers
attacked by the National Front.
consider that I am in the proud tradition of anti-fascists, both Jews
of whom were or,
the first Jews who opposed Zionism were those who set up the Jewish
Bund in Poland and Russia. They stressed the principles of socialism,
secularism, Yiddish and doyikayt or “localness.” Doyikayt was
encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our
country.” “We Bundists”, wrote one of their early leaders,
Viktor Alter, “wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and
show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape,
but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to
that of humankind.”
contemporaries in this country can be found in Jews for Justice for
Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Labour and others.
Miller’s play, The
takes place in 1692 during the Salem witch trials. It
tells the story of a group
who accuse other villagers of witchcraft. The play was written as an
allegory during the McCarthy years and the House of Un-American
Activities trials in the 1950s. To be accused of being a member of
the Communist Part then ensured that jobs, reputations and, for some,
their lives, were lost.
mattered little whether the accusations were true or not.It
mattered even less that membership of the CP at that time was
evidence of radical political consciousness and not criminal
Salem trials are an attempt to mask
real anti-semitism that has always been at the heart of the British
started with poor Jeremy. “Now,
within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being
murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite
as the leader of the Labour Party” declared
the Chief Rabbi. He ommitted to add that one
of those countries where anti-semitism was
now rampant is Victor Orban’s Hungary. The
same Orban who was an honoured guest of the Netanyahu Israeli
our own country, the
Middle East Forum funded
fascist Tommy Robinson while he was in prison. In the words of their
Director, Gregg Roman, who has worked in Israel’s Defence and
Foreign Ministries, “we are helping Robinson in his moment of
danger in three main ways ... to fund his legal defence … bringing
foreign pressure on the UK government to ensure Mr. Robinson’s
safety and eventual release …”NOTE:
Robinson has recently joined
the Tory Party!
us take a closer look at the ancestry of Zionism. Their founder,
Theodor Herzl, an admirer of the British Empire wrote to Cecil
Rhodes, who gave his name to the white settler colony Rhodesia, about
his passion for a Jewish state in the Middle East, “You are being
invited to help make history … it does not involve Africa but a
piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you …
because it is something colonial ..”
Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl, wrote to the Manchester Guardian:
“Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and
should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the
country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for
the Suez Canal.”
to those Chrisian Evangelicals, Iran and the Middle East. Prayers at the opening of
the US Israeli Embassy in Jerusalem, were delivered by Robert
Jeffries, a Dallas megachurch pastor who said Hitler was sent by God
to drive the Jews to their ancestral land. A busy God who, Jeffries
assures us, was also standing over the shoulder of Donald Trump and
A lifetime of anti-fascism and anti-racism makes me
also anti-Zionist. If I was being beaten up today by those fascists
in Bromley Hight Street chances are that they and not me would be
wearing Star of David badges.
a Tory peer on its board, former Tory MP and Social Security
Secretary, Peter Lilley, now Baron Lilley, It describes itself as
"one of the premier election service providers in the UK,
providing outstanding expertise and knowledge across all areas of
it part of their expertise to provide Laura Kuenssberg with insider
May’s comment to Jeremy Corbyn about his prospects of being PM, “We
will never let it happen” now chills my bones. As do the words of Roberto Saviano, anti-Mafia lawyer when he said, “Britain is the
most corrupt country in the world.”
is leader of the Labour Party must, alongside the party’s
membership, confront the privatisation of our voting system.
Jeremy Corbyn’s fate will be theirs … and ours